It is important to be clear about soap making. Soap is made from lye and fat or oils. No lye, no soap. However, if you want to make your own soaps without having to work with lye, you can use a melt-and-pour base or you can rebatch soap.
Rebatching soap involves grating and melting a pure soap, adding colors, herbs, scents and other additives to make a unique soap, and then pouring the mixture into soap molds to cure.
Soap making is a chemical process that combines the ingredients to form soap and glycerine. Properly made, there is no lye left at the end of the saponification process.
Alternatively, you can make cleansing solutions from plants such as soapwort, yucca or soap lily. Combined with water, these plants make a gentle sudsy rinse that cleanses your skin, hair and even fabrics.
Ancients also used oils such as olive oil, coconut oil or even animal fat, rubbing the oil or fat into their skin and then scraping it off with a smooth shell or piece of wood. They used natural exfoliants such as very fine clay or mud to rub their skin clean and smooth.
Melt and pour soap bars
Cut the block of soap in one inch cubes. Heat the crockpot on low and add the soap. Allow the soap to melt completely.
Stir the soap to make sure it has melted completely. Add coloring a drop at a time, stirring until well combined. It's better to add too little rather than too much. Take your time to achieve the color you want.
Add the essential oil or fragrance and stir to combine.
Add any other ingredients you want to use, such as fine clay or ground oatmeal to make a soothing, exfoliant soap. Flower petals are attractive in a clear soap. Ground herbs are both exfoliant and add fragrance and color. Stir until the additive is evenly distributed.
Pour into soap molds and allow to cool and set for 24 hours. You can purchase many different soap molds from suppliers of soap making ingredients or you can make a simple mold from a shoe box or baking dish lined with plastic.
Remove the soap from the mold and allow it to air dry. If you used a box for your mold, cut the soap into bars using a sharp knife. Allow to air dry until the surface is dry. Store as you would any soap. If you give the soap as gifts, don't wrap in paper as the paper might stick to the soap. Use plastic instead.
Ramona French owned a massage school and taught massage for 28 years. In that time she wrote textbooks on Swedish, acupressure, deep tissue and lymph drainage massage. She is the author of "Introduction to Lymph Drainage Massage" and "Milady's Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage." Her book, "The Complete Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage," published by Milady, was released in October 2011.